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September 22, 2017 4 min read

Frets4Vets provides a veteran student with a valid dd-214 and a diagnosis of PTSD or Depression (and some physical limitations are also considered) is provided a loaner guitar and an android tablet with proprietary lesson software provided by us and an instructor to provide 16 one on one classes provided at 1 hour per week. Every other week after their 4th lesson they will be invited (not a mandatory attendance)  to bi-weekly jam session / group get together held at their location, the teacher for this session will be a mental health counselor as well as a music instructor. The students are allowed 2 makeup days, if they can not attend for health or acts of mother nature those will not be counted. At the end of the 16 week course the student gets a diploma package that will include a brand new, handmade in the USA, electric guitar, lap steel or bass, depending on their lesson selection, that is theirs to keep. They will then be invited to continue to take lessons at a minor cost of $5 per week donation to the host American Legion post to help with the maintaining of the space they are so graciously letting us use for this program. If a student surpasses a 32 week program they will be inducted into our Player Hall of Fame in which ever category they have chosen to learn to play in. They will also at that point be evaluated and offered the chance to teach what they have learned to a new flight of students. Students will also get an assessment once monthly to track the progression of their PTSD or depression to help with informational metrics and to help determine if they need to be referred to any mental health specialists to further their recovery.

Our program is specifically designed to help create a coping mechanism to help the student focus their mind in a positive direction instead of a self destructive path. We can not emphasize enough that we are not a medical program we are a supportive program and our program works best when a student is enrolled in some form of counseling or is seeing a medical professional on a regular basis. We embrace the drug free approach of counseling blended with our program as the best method in all but the most extreme cases.

Where are you located?Georgetown, DE

How long have you been building? I have been building drums for five years, guitars for three and basses for two years.

How did you get started building?My father and I owned a trophy shop and I was trying to figure out what I could do with our laser when we weren't making plaques. I bought some plexiglass from Lowes and figured out how to make routing templates in the laser, then the monster was born.

Why do you build instruments?I started building just to try and get instruments I like for myself that would have been completely cost prohibitive for a weekend warrior musician. Once I started talking to some friends in the veteran community the building took on a whole new meaning and direction. Now all builds are either for the veterans in our program, or are built for customers to raise money for the charity builds.

When did you decide to build instruments for charity/where did the idea of Frets for Vets come from?I had created a small pile of prototype instruments as I was learning how to build, that weren't quite high enough quality to be able to sell so I was thinking of ways I could do good things with them. I thought about how music helps people who are depressed and did a little research and found it was being used to help PTSD patients too. My family and my wife's family all have veterans in them so it seemed like a no-brainer to do something to help those that fought for us.

What do you believe are the most important factors in tone?As a player and a builder I think that 80% of tone is in the hands / fingers, 15% is in the pickups and 5% comes from the wood, mainly in body resonance and vibration transmission from string to bridge to wood.

Do you play bass or guitar?I personally play bass, guitar, and keyboard

What are your favorite materials to work with?So far my favorite woods are, Sapele, Cherry, Padauk, Maple, Zebrawood, Sycamore, Walnut, and Purpleheart.

When did you start using Nordstrand Pickups?I started using Nordstrand Pickups about 2 months ago and will continue to for a long time. They have the best tone of any bass pickup I have used to date. Can't wait to try some guitar pickups soon too. 

So far I have had the pleasure of building an instrument with Nordstrand Pickups which is a fundraising raffle through the Past National Commander of the Sons of the American Legion.

How did you learn of Nordstrand Pickups?Google search and word of mouth.

Do you have a favorite Nordstrand Pickup?Big Blades. The tone is so articulate and can be pushed hard without changing it's response.

Learn more about frets for vets on their website and facebook page.


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